Thank You’s All Around

Not to bury the lead, my Dad’s surgery was successful today, but it was a very long day. He called me at 7:30, “Did I wake you up?” he asked. Of course he hadn’t as I was getting ready to come spend my day in the hospital with him like everyday since he got there ten days ago. “Come soon, because they might take me in earlier for my surgery.”

I am not sure how often people go in earlier, but in my experience they usually go in later. And that is what happened. He thought he might go at 10. No. Not 11, not 12 or even 12:30. So to pass the time, to keep his mind off it, Russ and I just kept talking to him. At one point Russ had to take a work call and I asked my Dad to tell me the whole story of the Avon Paper Scandal he uncovered when he was just a director. We also discussed all the things my grandmother used to cook and preserve and can. It was an extensive list and used up a lot of time waiting to go to surgery.

Around 1:00 they came to get him. Russ and I checked in with the surgical reception got a pager and went to the cafeteria for lunch. Just as soon as I finished eating the pager went off. I called over to reception and they said we were needed back in pre-op. It is a thousand step walk from the cafeteria to the surgical pre-op and I wondered the whole way over what in the world could have gone wrong already. Had an argument broken out? No, they just wanted us to see him in his cap and say good luck. We did so as the anesthesia fellow rolled him away.

Carter arrived to wait with us. About 3:15 when he had been back there for a couple of hours they paged me again. It was just to tell me they were just starting the surgery. I can only imagine what the conversation was with my father all that time waiting to start. I finally sent Carter home because it was clear she was not going to get to see her grandfather tonight.

After a few more hours the doctor came to see us and told us it went fine, but that his valve was twice as bad as they thought from a test last week. It is an absolute miracle that he is living. He is just stubborn enough to run on less than 20% of normal heart function.

Eventually he got moved to the cardiac ICU. We went back and saw him in the biggest room he has been in at Duke, but he won’t know it because he was still knocked out. He still had his breathing tube. It is going to be a few hours before they try and remove it. I told them that the more they kept him knocked out the better he will heal because he has to be kind of still where they cut him open. “Still” is not something he is capable of.

Russ and I came home to a delicious dinner of veggie frittata prepared by Carter. I will call over to the ICU tonight before I go to sleep to check, but won’t plan on seeing him until the morning.

The big thing I am thankful for are all the medical professionals, who despite having my father to deal with, kept him alive and hopefully improved. I am thankful for my family who has supported me supporting him. I am thankful that my Mom was able to stay mainly at home during this because dealing with this is not her thing. I am thankful for my Dad’s dear friends who called him over the last week and a half. All the messages on Facebook and texts and email really were comforting to me. And the people who came to visit in the hospital helped pass the time. And the prayers, I am not discounting those.

I did say to my Dad yesterday after we had been together in his tiny room together for nine days, “You know, the good thing about this is we have gotten to spend a lot of quality time together.” He agreed that has been a positive.

The worst thing about this whole experience was the waiting. Keeping my father occupied and not breaking out of the hospital was the hardest part. Now that is behind us. Considering how well he functioned on practically no blood pumping I am hopeful for a speedy recovery with a fully working heart. Lord knows the hospital wants that and for him to go home too.

2 Comments on “Thank You’s All Around”

  1. Jayne Donahue says:

    Dear Dana,

    Hi! Its’s Jayne Donahue. Ann Schweitzer just forwarded your update on your Father and his recovery. I am delighted all went so well. You are a blessing to both your Mother and Father. Give Ed a little hug from me. Everyone is in my thoughts and prayers. Wishing you and your Family a very Happy and Healthy 2019.


  2. Stori Cadigan says:

    Hi Dana,
    Love you and love your family. I am so relieved and glad to hear all went well. Please give everyone my love and a big hug

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